Minigrid integration in sub-Saharan Africa - identifying the 'optimal' point of connection

Chikumbanje, Madalitso and Frame, Damien and Galloway, Stuart; (2020) Minigrid integration in sub-Saharan Africa - identifying the 'optimal' point of connection. In: 6th IEEE International Energy Conference (ENERGYCon). IEEE, TUN, pp. 625-630. ISBN 9781728129563 (

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Considering the effort and resources dedicated towards the Sustainable Development Goal number seven (SDG7) of "ensuring energy access for all", a post-2030 sub-Saharan Africa will be filled with a range of network solutions - main grids, minigrids and nano-grids. In time, some of the smaller networks will expand while others will be abandoned for better and resilient energy sources. However, such integration will pose technical challenges as most off-grid systems are designed and sized without any consideration of the main grid or other off-grid systems. This paper proposes that the identification of grid feedin point into the minigrid network will be one of the critical decisions in integrating the main grid with once autonomous minigrids. Using power flow simulations of case study networks, results indicate that technical parameters such as losses and voltage drops on the local network vary significantly with choice of feed-in point, influencing the performance of the local network as well as its ability to accommodate more distributed energy resources in future. Based on these results, initial recommendations are made concerning the interconnection of such networks.